I''m learning all about Turn It In's formative assessment capabilities. It is stretching me....but I can see so much power in breaking essays into pieces. I'm using this with my grad students in a course called the Thinking Classroom. They've been submitting their thesis statements, which I can rate with a rubric and give them comments. Yes it does check for plagiarism, but used as a formative tool it can be so much more and I'm more interested in that than finding cheaters. In fact, this tool actually lets the student review their paper for originality before they submit it....you can establish how much of the paper has to be their original words...so the whole thing isn't one quote after the next. They can quickly see what you'll see and how it finds the quoted material in articles and other papers.
But that's not my focus.
I've seen the student's willingness to write a draft and ask a question. And then to go back and make some revisions and submit another draft. Never have I had much luck in getting the grad students to do this before. I feel like if I set them up well with a strong introduction and thesis statement, the body paragraphs should follow.
Turn It In has made a big difference and I'm excited to see what happens as I look at their essay outlines and body paragraphs.
That said, there is HUGE learning curve and it has been a bumpy road to say the least. Thank goodness these adult learners and they are more forgiving than my 8th graders. The class has hung in there and worked through all the twists and turns that it takes to use such a sophisticated tool.
There is a feature that I haven't tried using yet (getting the basics down first) called PeerMark. Here you create a rubric to have peer to peer reviews and students work with each other to strengthen and write their revisions. I would think this would be a fantastic way to help a K12 teacher...because honestly I couldn't imagine giving this much time and feedback to 150+ 8th graders (within a reasonable timeframe). It's feasible for me to do all the commenting with a class of less than 20 students, though, and it's really enjoyable. I know that sounds weird. But probing and asking questions to help people is the joy of teaching.
I wish I had something this good in the K12 environment because it would really help. No $$$ to buy anything like this though, I'm afraid.